Go Veggie With Style This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I am a vegetarian. Many people are quick to stereotype vegetarianism as bizarre behavior, appropriate for those on another planet. I treasure our Earth, and since we only have one, we should protect it and the wildlife that populates it. But that’s only one reason to be a vegetarian.

Vegetarians may live longer, healthier lives. There is a ­correlation between red meat consumption and diseases ­including osteoporosis, kidney stones, gall stones, ­diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, gum disease, and even acne. From an economic standpoint, it requires less land, money, and energy to produce foods for a vegetarian diet. While there are many benefits to being a vegetarian, only a handful of those who attempt to adopt this lifestyle succeed.

The most important quality is dedication. We are surrounded by meat. It would be easy to forgo vegetarianism at any moment and devour a steak. This is why vegetarians must be staunch and zealous.

Creativity is almost as important as commitment. It’s easy to tire of eating nothing but ­salad. But with a little creativity and some soy products, almost any meal can become vege­tarian-friendly. Many ethnic cuisines also offer abundant flavorful options. Studying these cultures is an excellent way to generate new ideas. Another is to go to a restaurant that specializes in vegetarian food. This can spark a plethora of creative ideas.

Since creativity is a necessary attribute, it is no coincidence that many vegetarians work in creative fields. Many brilliant individuals were vegetarians, including Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albert Einstein. Some current famous vegetarians are Madonna, Paul McCartney, ­Natalie Portman, Pink, and Milo Ventimiglia.

Not everyone wants to be a vegetarian. Accepting this is part of being a vegetarian with style. Forcing your beliefs on others, by subjecting them to long lectures on the nutritional benefits of not eating meat or shoving PETA fliers in their faces, is disrespectful. Stylish vegetarians should also be able to gracefully decline a meaty dish without offending their hosts. Another differentiating quality between the stylish and the un-stylish vegetarian is the ability to stick with it. The latter group can typically be overheard saying things like “I’m a vegetarian – I just eat chicken,” or “I haven’t eaten meat in ten days. I’m a vegetarian.”

Being educated is also important. Do your ­research about different types of vegetarians, and learn as much nutritional information as possible. Your goal as a stylish vegetarian is to be healthy, not trendy. Don’t become a vegetarian solely ­because a celebrity says it’s cool. People who do rarely stick with it for long.

Being a successful vegetarian has been easy for me – I’ve been one since I was born. My family is vegetarian, so no meat is available in my house. However, constantly being surrounded by others who eat meat, and sometimes those who are not accepting of vegetarianism, can be a challenge. To be successful, I’ve relied on personal traits like flexibility, since I’m often in situations where the food choices aren’t ideal.

A common mistake is quitting before your body has adjusted to the transition. It can be difficult to stay committed in the beginning because of temptation. How­ever, this fades over time.

Another common mistake is quitting because you’ve been misinformed about the ­nutritional wisdom of being a vegetarian. That’s why it is vital to be educated. Countless people will tell you that it’s impossible to obtain the nutrients and protein your body requires without meat, but they are incorrect. People actually need only 44 to 55 grams of protein a day, and that is easily found in a vegetarian diet. Many meat eaters are consuming triple that amount, which is not beneficial; on the contrary, it has been linked with Alz­heimer’s disease. Vegetables can also supply all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs. However, if you’re still not convinced, you can take a multivitamin.

A society in which people have the constitutional right to live freely is well suited for vegetarians. If you need further convincing, read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. In a style comparable to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Schlosser passionately exposes the dangers of eating meat. For great recipes, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman has got you covered.

Vegetarianism is an important cause that more people should support. PETA estimates that every vegetarian saves over a hundred animals a year. Not only is being a vegetarian healthy, but it also has a positive impact on the world.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 157 comments. Post your own now!

SemiVeggie said...
Oct. 20, 2010 at 10:12 pm
I just want to express how much I admire you. I am, as the name implies, a Semi-vegetarian (I don't eat red meat, but I do eat poultry and fish.) I am lucky in that my parents are also semi-vegetarians, and I know they would get behind me 100% if I decided to go veg. Therein lies the problem: they would be overzealous about it. I think a lot of people have this (or the opposite) problem. It's not about an aversion to vegetables, it's about the fact that other people are constantly hawking vegeta... (more »)
sexy boi (pedraza) said...
Oct. 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm
I dont believe that veggie's are outcasts. They are regular people just like you and me. For instance, I know a couple of vegitarians myself and dont consider them any less of a person than I am. I love them and me :D
krizzy said...
Oct. 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm
This is a very well written article on vegetarianism. I myself have tried to be a vegetarian but fail but i do not have the passion and the dedication one does need. Like you had mention.
*Elle* said...
Oct. 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm
Anyone out there a vegetarian...I congratulate you. I want to be come one. My parents is the problem. They dont approve. They think it won't healthy. So until I become of age in a yr, I ban McDonalds...and dont eat any type of fast food. They slaughter their chicken. Its just gross.
soccer27/7 replied...
Oct. 16, 2010 at 5:56 pm
I agree i would at least want to dedicate a year of my life to being a vegetarian because the way animals are treated makes my stomach turn in disgust. I totally support you and I hope your parents come to realize you are trying to help this planet. :)
S. said...
Sept. 6, 2010 at 1:44 pm
I am not a vegetarian, but I am seriously considering becoming one. I know that it is a very healthy option (when done right) and I have never liked the idea of killing animals. I don't mind it, when I don't think about it. But whenever I'm eating a burger and I actually think about the fact that it used to have big brown eyes, I want to throw up.
GraemeV replied...
Sept. 30, 2010 at 12:59 am

I'm the same!

I eat some meat, but only if it's in something - such as taco's or a pizza.
But if it's a fat slab of steak or something - it just makes me sick.

TheKing This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 31, 2010 at 9:04 am
Mmmmm... Steak...
Joshua S. replied...
Feb. 18, 2011 at 5:01 am
Mmmmm... Big FAT steak. :D
peacemaker14 said...
Jul. 16, 2010 at 11:02 pm

this really made me think i haven't ever thought of vegitarianism the way you do and you have changed my opinion on veggitarians.

two thumbs up :D

grasslova said...
Jul. 16, 2010 at 8:03 pm
This is a highly intriguing article. You hit some soft spots that are prominent in our society... NICE. I too am an herbavore, and have been for about a full year. Meat has parasites, preservatives, chemicals, dyes etc in potentially every bite. Thought I am not religious about my diet, I do believe that people are better off not consuming meat of any form unless it is as a last resort or sparingly, in a spirit of thanksgiving. In a book entitled "The China Study" a study has been conducted that... (more »)
thepreechyteenager said...
Jun. 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm

"The latter group can typically be overheard saying things like “I’m a vegetarian – I just eat chicken,” or “I haven’t eaten meat in ten days. I’m a vegetarian.”

Being educated is also important. Do your ­research about different types of vegetarians, and learn as much nutritional information as possible."

Ok- those sentences totally clash.  Pollotarianism is a type of vegetarianiam that includes pultry in the die... (more »)

J. Rae replied...
Aug. 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm
I was going to say exactly this! There are types of Vegetarians that only eat chicken, and some like my cousin who eat only fish. They are still Vegetarians, just a different type.
thepreechyteenager replied...
Aug. 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Hey, Rae!  I think we've already met on one of AquaGems's stories!!!  How 'ya doing?  You said you'd be able to get a TeenInk account in the summer, how close are you?  Obviously, I've already gotten one :)  Can you check out one of my pieces?  I'd really love a comment on "A Secret No More".  :) Please? 

*bats eyelids*

J. Rae replied...
Aug. 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm
Lol, of course we met before! I am not one to forget. I haven't been able to get an account for some weird reason. When I tried to put a story on the website it said that I was a member and had to login!  I am going to try to get a different email soon and see if it lets me on then, because all I've ever done is posted comments! I sent two stories to the magazine and haven't heard back for three months... hopefully they'll publish them soon. I will comment on you story right now!
Rosa223 said...
Jun. 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm
I loved your article -- but if everyone in this planet goes veggie, then the animal population will over-populate, and the animals need food. The food leaves, and pretty soon the animals will die either way. If this offends you, I'm sorry, but it's actually good some people are not vegetarians - like me, and that some are so that the animal populations will not over-populate. However, there are some species that are becoming extinct and I'm sorry about that. And also, I've tried to go veggie but... (more »)
GraemeV replied...
Sept. 30, 2010 at 1:02 am
I havn't really looked at it that way - but I think it's going to, not only take a long time to get everyone on this planet to go vegetarian - but it will also take a long time for both of these things to happen (Animals over-populated). But don't forget - animals eat animals!
FrancescaJoy replied...
Oct. 2, 2010 at 5:36 pm
I didn't remember that animals ate other animals! And if you're happy about this, my sister just went vegetarian a couple weeks/months? ago and has actually done a pretty good job. :)
GraemeV replied...
Oct. 2, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Ha ha ha! I didn't think of it at first either!

Congradulations! It also gives people self-motivation! It's great for a lot of things other than just saving animals!

Rosa21 replied...
Oct. 2, 2010 at 11:11 pm
Yup! I just realized that - my whole family and I were eating chicken except my sister, who ate tofu. That's dedication! Also my friend is going veggie. It's amazing to see how many people actually are vegetarian! I wish I could do it...I just don't have the willpower required.
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